Excerpt from Time to start caring about the wellbeing of bus drivers on the Union’s online magazine Workers First:
Bus drivers at New Zealand’s major cities struggle to spend time with family due to very long shifts. Drivers are asked to complete split and straight shifts which can see them away from home for 11-14 hours a day. This leaves eight hours for sleep and an hour either side to travel and get ready for work, and keep in mind these drivers are not transporting fruit, they shoulder the responsibility of transporting 50-odd lives day in, day out.
According to the OECD’s Better Life Index for 2017 the average New Zealander working full time is afforded around 15 hours a day for personal care and leisure. That’s for eating, sleeping, socialising and hobbies. Compare this to the above statistics and bus drivers are short-changed five hours a day, suggesting they work some of the longest hours in the country, but not by choice. And that’s the clincher. Bus drivers are not afforded the same everyday rights most of us have; the right to spend time with family, the right to simply have some down time, the right to choose what he or she would like to do with that spare time, the right to be active members of their respective communities, or to have a hobby. Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and bus companies need to recognise that drivers are people with a life outside of work that should be their own to do with what they choose.- FIRST Union General Secretary Dennis MagaFIRST Union Transport Organiser Emir Hodzic says Ritchies Murphy, like many bus companies, is ignoring the needs of drivers. “So instead of holding a picket alone when drivers are so limited for time we’ve decided to have a family’s afternoon where drivers get a bit of extra time with the people they care about, or at the very least a BBQ where they can have a bit of socialising time.”Mr Hodzic says the Union and MBIE has attempted to bring the company back to the negotiation table with no luck. “We’ve tried to reach out to them. They have absolutely no interest in considering the needs of workers. Everybody should be paid enough to survive on with the option of earning more should they chose to work longer hours, that is not happening here.”He welcomes locals to come along for support and those in the transport sector to come and speak to drivers about what it’s like to be a bus driver in Auckland.